Re-opening of the Royal Opera of Versailles


             Picture © Artlys / Art+musées et monuments

As you might not know, he Royal Opera re-opened its doors after 2 years of renovation work. This re-opening was on 21 September 2009. The building, an integral part of the Palace of Versailles, is the perfect example of a court theatre and is one of the remarkable elements of the estate of Versailles through its architectural, decorative, technical and theatrical arrangements.

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           Picture © 2014 Château de Versailles Spectacles

The opening of the opera house at Versailles brought to a very strict process of planification, projects and designs that took nearly 100 years. While it was finally built almost at the end of Louis XV’s reign, it had been conceived since as early as 1682, the year when Louis XIV, his predecessor took up residence at Versailles. Having commissioned Jules Hardouin-Mansart and Vigarani to draw up plans for a ballet theatre by the King, Mansart took the decision on a position at the end of the new wing that was to be constructed over the forthcoming years: the nearby reservoirs for the now very famous gardens, fountains could be also used to fight any fire if necessary while the sloping ground on that part of the site would allow provision of the necessary technical spaces below the stage without major excavation work. So cleverly-chosen, was the planned location that no one from Mansart’s successors ever questioned.

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          Picture © 2014 Château de Versailles Spectacles

In the beginning, the construction of the new theatre was planned for at least 20 years. Gabriel, who studied the leading theathers of Italy (particulary the ones at Vicenza, Bologna, Parma, Modena and Turin), during this period presented a variety of different designs to his patron, which, incredibly were not accepted. The king finally gave the order for work to commence only in 1768. Construction worked so flawlessly that the new opera house was finished in 23 months, ready to be launched on May 16th, 1770, the day of the wedding of the Archduchess Marie-Antoinette and Dauphin with a performance of
Persée by Quinault and Lully.

Initially commissioned to Jules Hardouin-Mansart in 1682, the construction of the Royal Opera was lead by Jacques-Ange Gabriel and inaugurated in 1770 during the wedding of the future Louis XVI. Greatly transformed under Louis-Philippe by Frédéric Nepveu, it was deprived of its theatrical purpose in 1871 to house the Senate and it wasn’t until 1957, after a vast campaign lead by André Japy, that it was restored to the aspect it had under the old Régime, back to the Opera Royal.

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        Picture © 2014 Château de Versailles Spectacles

The Royal Opera is ready to welcome back audiences since the 2009-2010 season, so now is time for you to enjoy it as well!

If you are planning to visit Versailles, there are several options with us, where you can enjoy a Versailles Castle Guided Tour with Pickup, a guided tour, an audio guided tour, also enjoy the Fountain Show, and also share it with a Louvre Museum visit. Tickets from Paris to Versailles Round Trip RER , also available.

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